April 9, 2020
Statement From Assemblyman Phil Palmesano:
The recently-passed state budget should have been one that focused on providing a robust response to the coronavirus and providing relief to our families, small businesses and employees who have been crushed by this public health crisis. Instead, the governor and the two legislative Majorities chose to focus on unnecessary, partisan, controversial and policy-laden proposals that should have never been included in the budget and plenty of misplaced budget priorities.
You may ask, “what unnecessary policies?”A renewable energy siting law, which will expedite the development and approval of wind and solar farms all across Upstate New York with no local input, no local control and no regard for existing local laws. It sets a dangerous precedent.
A Styrofoam container ban, which will add additional costly mandates to already-struggling small businesses, like restaurants and bars, that have already been crushed by business closures, layoffs, lost investment and the grave uncertainty of how to pay their bills and stay in business. Changing the state flag and seal, paid gestational surrogacy and even changes to the disastrous bail and discovery reform laws all should’ve been dealt with outside of the budget. The bail and discovery reform laws should have been repealed completely and we could’ve started the process from scratch, this time allowing judges the discretion to take into account the potential danger of releasing an individual into the community and critical input from law enforcement and district attorneys.
None of these proposals needed to be part of the budget. All of these items could have and should have had more discussion and public input and waited for a later time. In the middle of a public health crisis and economic catastrophe was not that time.
What out-of-touch and misplaced budget priorities? How about $100 million per year of your tax dollars to pay for commercials and yard signs for political campaigns? What about the continuation of a $420 million film tax credit for Hollywood and the entertainment industry and $40 million to run commercials touting the failed START-UP New York program that claims we’re “Open for Business?” These funds would’ve been better directed toward helping provide relief and support to our many small businesses that have been crushed by closures, layoffs and lost revenues during this public health crisis. They even added insult to injury by rejecting our Small Business Emergency Recovery Act, an amendment that would have provided immediate emergency relief for small businesses and workers. The Legislature even granted the governor the authority he sought to close any correctional facility he wants with just 90 days’ notice, instead of the year currently required under statute. His plan to jam more and more inmates into fewer, more crowded facilities is bad, dangerous policy. We shouldn’t even be discussing closing any more correctional facilities until we first end the dangerous and inhumane practice of double-bunking and double celling inmates. It’s time to finally eliminate the more than 6,000 double bunks and cells in our corrections system. This is wrong and dangerous. It’s wrong for our dedicated correction officers and staff who go to work every day to an increasingly-dangerous job where they’re encountering more and more assaults and violence.
Finally, to say I am disappointed in this budget and the budget process is an understatement. We had the opportunity to come together in a bipartisan fashion during this public health crisis. We had the opportunity to work together to address a ten-plus billion dollar budget deficit and to address our state’s emergency needs. We had the opportunity to adopt a budget that was not loaded with controversial and unnecessary partisan policy. We had an opportunity to prioritize our families, workers and provide some much-needed relief to our small businesses that employ half of our state’s workforce. But instead, this budget was “business as usual.” New York taxpayers deserve better!